“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus [20:16]
We don’t often talk much today about “bearing false witness,” so when we come to the Ninth Commandment we may not know exactly what it is that we are talking about.
Often, bearing false witness is equated with lying, and more directly lying about someone else. Certainly, this relates to the concept of bearing false witness. But this idea does not exhaust the real meaning of the commandment.
Puritan Pastor Thomas Watson summarized the commandment this way, “[The Command] forbids anything which may tend to the disparagement or prejudice of our neighbor… and… not only that, we should not slander falsely or accuse others; but that we should witness for them and stand up in their defense.”
The Command includes a negative and positive aspect. The nature of not bearing false witness is not merely speaking negatively against someone else, but it’s also doing all we can with our words to uphold the truth about our neighbors. We are to stand up and fight for them!
This of course should give us pause in our consideration of our words. Not only must we be careful about saying the wrong things about one another, but we must also be all the more diligent to say the best things about one another. Our words must carry the truth in love and grace about our neighbors.
Studies reveal that you and I will speak thousands of words today. Will those words be sources of life, encouragement, and building up? Or will they be words that destroy, slander, and tear down others? May our words be full of grace and truth like our Savior who is full of grace and truth.
Father, grant me the grace to be a truth speaker and a defender for others with my words. Amen